Knoxville — Terry and Pat Wilson of Knoxville will welcome a special RAGBRAI® participant into their home on July 24. Carter LeBeau of Davenport has participated in each of the Register's Annual Great Bike Rides Across Iowa, and he says interaction with people he has met, such as the Wilsons, who open their homes, keep him coming back to the event.
"It's just the most delightful thing and memorable thing," LeBeau said. As the ride has grown over the past 40 years, with more and more participants, LeBeau said it has taken on too much of a "party atmosphere." If it weren't for the home stays, he probably would not come back.
LeBeau joined the first RAGBRAI® after reading an article about a group of journalists who wanted to ride across the state. An open invitation was included to anyone who wanted to meet them in Sioux City to participate.
For many years, LeBeau rode every mile of the ride. Recently, as he has approached his current age of 87, he rides less and less, but enjoys the experience of meeting new people in the overnight towns.
LeBeau connected with Wilson through Rotary. LeBeau is a Rotarian and sent a letter to the Knoxville Rotary Club, asking for someone to take he and his wife, Kaye, in for the evening when they get to town. Wilson, a member of the club, answered the call.
It is customary for LeBeau to contact the person he intends to stay with before he gets to town. There are some of his hosts he has stayed with over the years that he remains in contact.
LeBeau has traveled overseas and visited bicycle shops. In most places, they have heard nearly as much about RAGBRAI® as they have the Tour de France.